Fire Alarm? False Alarm...Sorta

By: Meagan O’Halloran
By: Meagan O’Halloran

Are we really prepared for the worst? In the event of an emergency, do we really know what to do?


Last week I had a little scare over here at the Destin Bureau.
My office is at the top floor of a twenty-one story high-rise condominium resort.
I was getting back to the office a little later than usual because of breaking news. (Remember those hikers stranded by the powerful flood waters of the Alaqua Creek?)
Anyways, in the midst of scrambling to get my story in on time for the 6’o’clock news, the fire alarm goes off. I blatantly ignore the sirens, thinking the alarm will cease in a few minutes. 
            Well that’s not how this story ends.
 After I finished my work, I decided to see what all this fire alarm business was all about.
I went into the hallway to find it empty, which is not unusual considering the building is only at about 30% occupancy right now during the off-season. (Mostly snowbirds)
What did surprise me, and even scare me, was the fact that the alarm caused the emergency doors to the closest stairwell exit to release and barricade the exit, which now makes me think I am locked in a possibly burning building. Can you imagine?
            I have never known this to happen, and to make matters worse-- the doors wouldn’t budge….at all.
            Not to mention here comes the part where I hear the fire truck sirens.
Now I blame myself for not being as aware of my surroundings as I could have been.
Despite being in major panic mode, I found another stairwell exit at the end of another hallway and went down twenty-one flights of stairs to the bottom.
Turns out, it was only a minor incident on one of the bottom floors.
            But I got to thinking. What if there had been a real emergency? What about those snowbirds? Can they make it down twenty-one flights of stairs in a timely manner?
            And those locked doors? And the way I completely disregarded the alarm in the beginning.
            Are we really prepared for the worst? In the event of an emergency, would we really know what to do?
            Are these condominiums equipped with the most up to date technology? Are they undergoing routine safety checks?
            Do our snowbirds have a plan of action? How about these corporate resort owners?
            The bottom line is, Of course we can all use common sense in the event of an emergency, but most of us never think it will happen to us.
            Sure you hear about it and it may be a passing thought every once in awhile.
            I urge all of you to take a little more time to be aware of your surroundings while you’re out and about… especially in new locations.
            I know I certainly will.
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